In a dual move in the past few days, the Department of Labor (DOL) has reached out to employees to provide educational resources about their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualified workers facing serious health conditions or needing to care for close relatives. (Military caregiver leave has recently been included.)

First, the DOL published a downloadable FMLA Employee Guide, described by the department in this way:

The Employee Guide includes three easy-to-follow and informative flow charts that detail how FMLA coverage and eligibility are determined, maps out the FMLA leave process and how the FMLA medical certification process works. It addresses the FMLA definition of "son or daughter", including in loco parentis relationships even if the employee has no biological or legal relationship to the child, as provided in the Department's June 2010 FMLA Administrator Interpretation. It also provides detailed information on how an employee can file an FMLA complaint with the WHD if they believe their FMLA rights have been violated.

Second, the guide was followed up a week later by a free webinar directly primarily at employees, but with an invite to employers. The DOL offered this rationale for the webinar:

One of the greatest challenges the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) faces in enforcing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is that too often, employees are unaware that they have rights under the FMLA, or that the FMLA even exists. Even for employees that are aware of the FMLA, there is an additional hurdle. The FMLA is very technical, unwieldy, and can be difficult to understand, even for experienced practitioners.